It’s a nightmarish thought. The smoke alarm goes off, you see flames in your kitchen, and soon you and your family are fleeing to safety.
The fire department arrives fast enough to save your home, but it’s clear things will never be the same again. While some people choose to move out and move on after a fire, it’s hard to imagine giving up your home.
Still, there’s some work involved in moving back in after a fire, from cleaning up to filing fire claims. Bucks County residents who’ve experienced a fire can begin to recover by following these steps.
1. Be careful
The key thing here is to wait until authorities tell you it’s safe before returning home. Once you get their OK, you can begin assessing damage and cleaning up.
The fire might be out, but there could still be pockets of heat left in the ground that could burn you. Steer clear of live embers and look for outside damage such as broken gas lines or loose electrical lines. If you spot anything like this, arrange for a professional inspection before re-entering your home.
The fire department might have shut off your utilities. If that’s the case, wait until they give you the all clear before having your power/water/gas service restored.
2. Checking for damage
Use caution as you go through the house to check for fire and smoke damage. Wear leather gloves, thick-soled shoes and a dust mask/nose clip to avoid inhaling contaminants. Wear long pants and long-sleeves, along with eye protection, helmets or hard hats to guard against falling debris and ear protection if you’ll be working with power tools or heavy machinery during clean up.
Avoid putting weight on things that might be damaged, such as stairs or furniture, and do not walk on any floors that are sagging, as they could collapse.
3. Cleaning up
Let’s say that you live next to a house that had a fire, or that you had a fire but the fire department caught it in time. Your property might not have been harmed by the flames, but still suffered a significant amount of smoke damage.
Cumberland County, NJ residents can clear smoke damage on the outside of their homes by pressure washing driveways and siding.
Inside the house, you can clean off walls, doors and cabinets with mild soap and water.
According to the Red Cross, it’s a good idea to get rid of any medicine or food that is exposed to heat, soot or smoke damage. Cumberland County, NJ residents should also keep an inventory for when they file their insurance claims. Take photos to show proof of damage.
4. Replacing documents and other valuables
Don’t forget to replace important documents that may have been lost or destroyed in the fire. These can include drivers licenses, insurance policies, passports, birth certificates, Medicare and Social Security cards, wills, stocks and bonds, tax records and mortgage papers.
If you have cash or coins that were damaged in the fire, FEMA says you can get it replaced at your nearest Federal Reserve Bank. Your local bank can direct you to the closest Federal Reserve.
5. File an insurance claim ASAP
As soon as possible, file your fire claims. Cumberland County, NJ residents, like everyone else, need to begin the process of recovering the value of lost/damaged property right away. Track all communications with your insurance company and keep notes of every meeting and phone call.
6. Consider hiring a public adjuster
Navigating Cumberland County, NJ fire claims can be a tricky process, especially if you’re also trying to put your life back together after a fire.
This is where a public adjuster can help. These professionals have the unique skills to help you deal with insurance companies and get a return on your fire claims.
In Cumberland County, NJ, we realize that some people are hesitant to hire a public adjuster due to the cost. Yes, you’ll pay the adjuster a percentage of what you’ll receive from the insurance company. But this can be worth it if the adjuster gets you more than what you would have otherwise received.
As we always say, we hope you’ll never have a cause to get in touch with us. But if a fire does break out in your home, know that we can help put you on the road to recovery.